Mogavero Architects

Mogavero Architects: Why we do what we do

It had been a year and a half since our last retreat and Renner Johnston,
Mogavero President, and I (Lisa Halpin, Associate, Architect), felt we had been too
nose-to-the-grindstone with our day-to-day tasks. We needed to step back and
revisit the Mogavero Architect’s “why.” Not only why the company
exists in the first place (thanks, David Mogavero), but why we continue to
design and operate with such passion today.

As we were planning the retreat, it was clear that we needed to find a
location that reflected our “why.” What better place than one of our
own projects? Cashin’s Field recently opened with 51 affordable rental units
and a central community center – which our client graciously opened to us for
the day. The project is beautifully situated in Nevada City, lending the
opportunity to get away from our desks and see one of our projects in action
with a true “retreat” feeling of being in the mountains.

The day’s activities were structured around Simon Sinek‘s book “Start with
Why” which encourages individuals and groups to center themselves
around why they do what they do, instead of focusing on the what
or the how. So, for one day we put down our pencils, left our
computers, and talked about the things that make us most proud to be designers.

Peter Oliver, Architect and Code Specialist, shared a story from the Santa
Fe Commons grand opening, an 81-unit affordable housing project with 25 permanent
supportive housing units for those transitioning from homelessness. A
resident talked about her journey from an abusive relationship which led to her
being un-housed…until finally she was able to move into a brand-new apartment
at a rental rate she could afford by herself! Another shared a story about
seeing the ripple effect of our projects: in this case, one unit serving a
senior who could now take care of their grandchild during the day so their
child could go to work. Something that makes me proud of our workplace is
seeing one of my intern mentees graduate from college and continually develop
her skills and maturity as a full-time designer working towards her

Why do we do what we do? It’s hard to put feelings into words, but here is an
attempt: We want to leave a legacy of inspiring places for people that
contribute to a sustainable future. We have a diverse and inclusive company
that we love showing up to every day. In short: We envision communities that
connect people and place, empowering them to write their own stories.

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